I had my MiniDisc recorder with me, and after deciding not to attempt to record any of the wonderful fireside music on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday night (recording around campfires can be quite awkward), finally on the Wednesday I was urged by Matua to make a recording of a song (primarily so Alan could learn the chords). After that, I seemed to be almost continually recording. Also, Alan's Wednesday lunchtime and Thursday evening reggae programmes on Fresh FM were both devoted to the Treewalk, and some excerpts from those are included here.
"Mama Africa" was recorded in Alan's kitchen on the Wednesday night of the walk, as was "Aue Te Matua". We'd synchronistically crossed paths with Alan's fellow busker and musical brother Matua (a MaoriRastafarian) and his children on our way to a kindergarten in Motueka that afternoon. He ended up spontaneously joining us, singing "Aue Te Matua" (with his own children singing beautiful backing vocals) and talking expressively to the assembled kids about trees and the environment. Finding the experience as moving as the rest of us, he ended up back at our camp that night (Alan's garden) for a session. Both songs are his own. The words were given to him by his elders some years ago with a request to put them to music - his translation follows the song itself.
"The Tree of Life" was recorded the next afternoon just before we left for the next camp, having spent the day visiting schools. A small circle of native trees was planted in Alan's front garden, followed by a spontaneous celebratory jam, from which this was extracted. Lilli and Tahu can be just about heard offering various invocations from the centre of the circle (they were facing away from the mic). In terms of a sense of magical group unity, this felt like one of the peaks of the week.
"Russian tune" was recorded on the Sunday morning following the walk, when we all assembled for a final busking session at Motueka Market to raise the final funds to pay for the trees we had planted. It's a Russian tune (unsurprisingly) played by Helen on the recorder, with me muddling through, still in the process of trying to work it out on my saz.
busking Motueka's Sunday morning market:
(left to right) Saan, Karma, Paul, Kristina, Alex, a tree, Helen, Paul Taxi, Ian (obscured), Matthew, Alan
"Rolling 'Round the Galaxy" was a spontaneously composed song by Kristina, recorded around a brazier in her and Paul's garden on Trewavas Street on the Thursday night of the walk. An even more remarkable improvised song which gradually settled on the repeated line "We... are lost... pieces of the puzzle that fit together" occured later that night, with six female voices singing over saz and guitar, definitely my musical highlight of the walk (and one of my life - it was that good!). Typically, the microphone had somehow been switched off shortly beforehand.
"Wings Like a Dove" was initiated by Alan as his last song on the Thursday evening, before retiring for the night. It's based on a line the song of the same title by one of reggae's finest bands, Culture.
"And So" was spontaneously created on the Friday night after we'd arrived at the Riverside Community. Having been jamming along with Alan's simple, three (major) chord reggae-type grooves all week, and feeling particularly happy and inspired, I discovered that I quite liked playing simple tunes in major scales.
"Dawn of the Revolution" was recorded on the Wednesday afternoon in the Fresh FM studio, as part of one of Alan's two weekly radio programmes. The voices are Lilli, then Tahu, freeforming words over music played by numerous Treewalkers happily squashed in a small space. Lilli begins by describing her first impressions, seeing our fluorescent-clad procession walking along the road from Brooklyn (a tiny satellite of Motueka) towards her and Tahu, who were walking in search of us at the time.
"Funky Toning Jam" was another bit of hilarious spontaneity from the Friday night campfire at Riverside. It sounds like Damara was responsible. The saz is initially used percussively. Everyone (despite being seated) was fully in motion during this one.
"Song for the Trees" was sung by Kristina during the Sunday market busking session, a song she improvised on the spot.
"There's Only Now" is one of Helen's tunes, played by her on recorder, also at the Sunday market.
"Dub Locally, Stream Globally" is an excerpt from Alan's Thursday evening radio programme. Lilli and Tahu can be heard streaming consciousness over a piece of improvised organic dub recorded a year or so earlier by my improvised music collective, Children of the Drone in Exeter (southwest England). The rest of the group were walking out to the seafront during this broadcast, listening in via a small radio bungeed onto Deco's bikecart. I was immediately struck by the music, finding it strangely familiar, but not being able to quite pin it down. After a couple of minutes I noticed that it contained an instrument which sounded a bit like my saz, being played in a style rather like my own. Gradually, the pleasant realisation dawned on me that I was listening to myself on the radio (while walking along the most beautiful stretch of sundrenched seashore). Having arrived at Paul and Kristina's house, we put the stereo on and got to enjoy hearing Helen playing some live pennywhistle and melodica over some more dubbed-out Children of the Drone (included in this collection as "Global Songlines"). Fresh FM recently began streaming their broadcasts live over the Web.
"Levi-tation" was an extended saz, guitar and vocal jam from the Thursday night session in Paul and Kristina's garden. Ras Levi was playing some simple freeform guitar (something he never usually does) and I began to interweave saz lines, the voices gradually joining. I think this is one of the loveliest things I've ever recorded.
"Rastafari" is from the Sunday morning market session, Alan singing something based on the reggae song originally recorded by the Jamaican singer Peter Broggs.
The Treewalk, setting off from Mountain Valley School to Ngatimoti: (left to right) Alan, Uisce, ??, Matthew, Rowan, Karma, ??, ??, Alex
"Significantly Altering the Elevation" was recorded on the Friday in The Oval at Riverside, shortly after we arrived there, and happily collapsed (we'd visited five schools that day). I'm playing saz, just about everyone else in the group is playing percussion. It's a tune I developed during the Walk from a fragment I'd been playing around with for months. The title was chosen by Alan, based on a phrase I used in trying to ascertain the success of my scheme to speed up the cooking of some soup at the Monday night camp above Ngatimoti, this involving me hammering the trivet into the ground to bring the pot closer to the fire (it worked).
"We Are the Treewalk" was basically Alan reading from the Treewalk flyer on the Wednesday Fresh FM broadcast
"Get Up Stand Up" is the Wailers song, of course, sung by Matua in Alan's kitchen on the Wednesday night.
"Lick Samba" is Alan and me messing about with the old Wailers song in Paul and Kristina's garden. That's Saan laughing. "Singers and players of instruments, nicing up the residence," as this version of the song goes.
"Easter at Uisneach" is a piece I composed on the 1997 Treewalk during a break for the Easter weekend at Uisneach, the sacred hill at the centre of Ireland, in this instance played by the fire at Riverside on Sunday night.
"Reggaemalitis" is the Peter Tosh song, sung by Alan during the Sunday market busking session.
"Sweet Home Motueka" was basically a joke. For some reason, during a lovely jam outside the Riverside Community Hall on Saturday evening, someone mentioned Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Ian instantly launched into the chords for "Sweet Home Alabama".
"Fireside Fragments" are me and Riverside resident Stephen playing improvised saz and guitar by the fire at Riverside on Saturday night. This was the first time Stephen had played improvised music. The cracks and pops are from the fire.
"No More Runnin' Out the Back Door" was one of Kristina's songs sung by her at the Sunday market.
"Global Songlines" involves Helen playing live melodica over some more Children of the Drone improv reggae, with some vocals from Tahu, live on Fresh FM during Alan's Thursday evening show.
"Yeah!" is a little excerpt from the Wednesday lunchtime broadcast. That's Vanessa's assertion.
"Any Rhythm" is me playing saz over Lilli's drumming, after bypassing her percussive hesitance by suggesting that she just play "any rhythm". Recorded late one night by the fire at Riverside.
"Loving You" is one of Matua's mellow songs, played out in Alan's back garden around a small charcoal brazier after the kitchen session wound down on the Wednesday evening.
"Long Time Sunshine" is Alan's take on a small part of the Incredible String Band's epic "A Very Cellular Song" ("May the long time sun shine upon you, and all love surround you, and the pure light within you guide your way on."), played at the Sunday market.
"Gangster Walk" is another Matua song from Alan's back garden, Wednesday night.
"Jah Lead" is an Alan-led skank from the Sunday market, based on Bob Marley's "Jah Live".
"Live an' Direc'" is a little excerpt from the Wednesday broadcast.
"funky saz jam" is from the Saturday night session around the fire at Riverside.
"And So (hectic busking version)" is my new (created the night before) saz tune bashed out fairly crudely with lots of drums, from the Sunday market.
Fresh FM studio, Wednesday lunchtime:
(left to right, front) Lilli, Tahu, Paul Taxi; (back) Vanessa, Toni, Saan, Alex, Ian, Alan, Matthew
"Thanks and Praises" is simply Alan issuing some Treewalk thankyou's over the airwaves on the Wednesday radio programme.
"Three Little Birds" is a rough but spirited version of the Bob Marley song, from the Wednesday programme. This quickly became something of a Treewalk theme song, after we discovered that all the schoolkids know and love it (presumably, it's in primary school songbooks these days).
This is a very slightly different selection from the 2 CD set being prepared as a fundraiser for the next Motueka Treewalk.
A lot of the same crew were involved with this, this and this.